A dream destination

A relaxing spot by the ocean is a dream destination for many during retirement. Webster City native Bruce Leytham looked to do just that in the Philippines. However, he soon found himself managing a resort.

Leytham grew up in Webster City and spent much of his life in the Army. During a break in his service, he ran a mortgage company in Columbia, S.C. There, he met the woman he is now married to. After returning to the army and then retiring, he took his wife, Gemma, back to her native Philippines to live there in March of 2013.

“We went over there with just our suitcases,” Leytham said.

While Leytham expected a relaxed retirement upon reaching the Philippines, he was presented with an opportunity to purchase a resort. Even though the business would require repairs before it reopened, Leytham said he saw its potential.

“I went and took a look at it, and I thought it was absolutely beautiful,” Leytham said. “It was a fixer-upper, but with a real estate background I knew I could make some money off of it.”

The couple opened Seaside Beach Resort on the island province of Bohol in June of 2013. Several of Gemma Leytham’s relatives work at the resort with them. The business features white sand beach front cottages, a karaoke bar, nearby attractions such as the Chocolate Hills and more. What sets the resort apart from others, according to Leytham, is how it exposes visitors to Filipino culture.

“My resort is not a typical beach resort where you have all the foreigners come there and the locals don’t really come around too much. My place is designed for all the locals. I have between 50 and 300 people at the resort every day. I really want the foreigners to experience what the Philippines is really all about,” Leytham said.

The resort invites all visitors to enjoy Filipino cuisine, take part in karaoke, and enjoy popular cultural events like bikini contests. In addition to the many locals who visit, Leytham said he has hosted visitors from Sweden, Germany, China, France, Malaysia, the United States and many other locations across the globe. In the Fall of 2013, Leytham took a brief trip to Webster City, and took two community members back to the Philippines with him.

Mark Glascock and Mitch Lamb arrived in the Philippines in early November of 2013. Leytham went with them on the trip, because he said it made travel and customs easier for them.

“Unfortunately, we picked a very, very bad time to go,” Leytham said.

A typhoon passed through a large area of the Philippines during their trip. It delayed their arrival to the resort and caused an electrical outage. The resort was not hit as hard as other areas of the Philippines, but Leytham said it put a bit of a damper on the trip. He’s hoping that when Dave Larson, who graduated in his class at Webster City High School, visits the resort in September that the weather will be better.

As Leytham looks to the future, he’s hoping to grow the business. He said plans are in place to build an olympic-sized swimming pool and a smaller children’s pool with slides going into both pools. He’s also recently opened a new restaurant at the resort.

“So much has been done since I visited there,” Glascock said.

For more information, visit the resort’s website at seasidebohol.com.